The food industry presents a unique challenge to those who want to get started in their own business. Not only are you trying to appeal to the very personal aspects of eating including the visual, the smell and the feel as well as flavor, but you must also consider the same fundamental challenges of establishing your brand above all others. Invariably, the person who decides to get into the food industry does so with a strong passion for their idea or concept. However, it is not enough just to have a good idea. To help you focus your plan of action, here are five basics for getting started in the food industry:
It is likely you have already begun this process of establishing your unique brand. This could be in the way family and friends have been introduced to your unique food product. Perhaps you have been allowing taste tests for the purpose of getting feedback and discovering what improvements you can make on the way to perfecting your product. Keep in mind, most of the time, what you like the best is typically what others will like the least. Trust your feedback and take it to heart. You are, after all, trying to appeal to the taste of others. If you can tap into the emotional attachment that anchors customers to your product over all others, you can be sure you have the potential for sustainable growth.
To help you narrow down the process, here are some basics on the approach to branding:
- Find your niche market: Don’t try to be all things to all people.
- Learn how to connect with your audience: Your objective is to establish an emotional attachment to your unique product. This could be in the name or clever packaging or perhaps specialty ingredients.
- Go beyond just highlighting the features: Your hook needs the kind of inspirational brand message intended to influence your audience.
- Reinforce your brand image: Everyone at every level within your company must operate in a manner that supports and reinforces your brand image.
After your initial market testing stages have satisfied your curiosity as to whether you have a potentially profitable opportunity, it is time to take a look at the competition. In whatever way you are intending to proceed, get out there and compare your methods with those already operating successful businesses. If it is product positioning, shelf strategy or great marketing, imagine your product in the same manner and see where yours might be lacking.
If it is developing your own brick and mortar location, compare establishments of similar size and fare, examine both the exterior and interior design and the way customers are treated to a unique experience. Taste their food, experience their service and determine how yours will compare. Take note of their offerings and prices and evaluate where yours compares. You can rely on the fact that your customers will if you don’t. If your price exceeds the competition, so should your product.
It is not enough to assume that you have a going product. You must objectively compare your ideas to those already working to see where yours surpasses others or where you could use some improvement so that it does. Your initial taste testers should have given you sufficient feedback to drill down to the specifics that you would either like to keep or alter. Keep in mind, less than 20 percent of new food product lines exceed their objective annual goal within 18 months of being introduced.
It is not enough anymore that you have something to sell and count on customers to come in and buy. Be prepared to embrace the technology that will help streamline your business. Point of sales systems, or your POS, must be able to give you an accurate understanding of what you are selling. A good POS system not only legitimizes your business, it delivers the metrics you need to track and analyze your success on a consistent basis allowing you to target growth and development to reach and exceed your goals.
We have become a data-driven global market with today’s technology. With social marketing, you have the opportunity to seek customers through e-commerce, too. You may need a POS system capable of accurately measuring your weights prior to packaging and dispatch. Armed with the data that record your profits and losses will allow you to make the necessary corrections to improve your bottom line year over year.
You have the product; you have the POS; you are making sales. Now it is time to scale your business. What does this mean? It is taking your sales to the next level. Take what you have achieved and use this information to identify and design sales to establish repeat business and your customer delivery processes. The nuts and bolts of a progressive business is a repeatable, scalable sales model.
Scaling Your Sales Allows You To:
- Add new hires who can match your own productivity level or that of your leading salesperson,
- Continue to increase your leads on a consistent basis,
- Consistently forecast your sales conversion rates and revenue,
- Lower your cost of acquiring new business relative to the revenue you can earn from that business over time, and
- Provide your customers with the right product at the right place and time.
This is an effort that can take some R&D in finding the repeatability to achieve a scalable sales model. With the courage to experiment, you can gain an understanding of the market demand combined with the market size to create repeatable processes designed to support that market, thus establishing a scalable business.
Managing a small business can be double the stress of maintaining a relationship, triple the stress of raising a child and quadruple the stress of managing your own personal finances. Small business owners tend to sacrifice everything to the demands of the business including physical health and fitness and personal priorities. At least one-third of small business owners are working either a full- or part-time job while running their own separate business.
The stress factors can be off the scale. Remember that if you cannot maintain a level of happiness, good health and a modicum of motivation, there is little hope for creating a business model that will deliver a positive experience. As the business owner, you set the tone. Surprisingly, there are a number of people who will perform under the oppressive nature of a stress-case, but not for very long without it detracting from the functional operation of the business. Finding a workable method of handling some of the relentless challenges that come with running your own business in a state of mental calmness is a reward in itself. The return on that investment is practically immeasurable.
Competing in the food industry is not for everyone, but if you find a passion for it and enjoy it, you can find it a worthwhile experience. Making a name for yourself and your brand is something that is hard to compare to in other avenues of life. Food industry entrepreneurs can rise to the ranks known by a precious few. If your appetite for success can match that of your customers’ affinity for your brand, you will have succeeded in obtaining the unmatched focus, discipline and unconventional thinking necessary to make it in the highly competitive and rewarding food industry.